There is not a single original thought in "Light It Up," a ghetto-transplanted, hostage-situation "Breakfast Club" in which a mathematically diverse group of teenagers are trapped in their high school, keeping a lone authority figure under siege in the name of getting a little respect.
Written and directed by "Black Rain"-scripter Craig Bolotin, it pilfers its urban angst high school air from "Lean On Me," "187" and other good kids-bad school movies. Its paint-by-numbers plot points are lifted from hostage flicks like "Dog Day Afternoon" and "The Negotiator."
The plot: After a scuffle that ends with the on-campus cop (Forest Whitaker) getting shot in the leg, six students take over the school, holding the cop hostage and demanding improvements to their learning environment like books for every student and window repairs.
Continue reading: Light It Up Review
"Traffic" is a socially and politically grandstanding soap opera about the narcotics trade and the futility of the "war on drugs." It's a film about how that war is propagated by bureaucratic demagogues in the United States government, not because they think they can stem the flow of illegal substances but because they think saying they want to is a way to win elections.
OK. Point taken.
"Traffic" is also gritty and realistic feat of cinematic logistics, following no less than 15 major characters (and more than 50 speaking parts) through several complex, well-acted storylines about all sides of the drug trade -- from kingpins to cops to policy wonks to addicts. So my hat is off to the picture's ever-brilliant director, Steven Soderbergh ("Erin Brockovich"), who certainly does a fine juggling act, involving the audience in every story on a personal level.
Continue reading: Traffic Review
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